'Oman' by Eliana Lauder
Oman is the perfect example of exceptional leadership. Right across the way, in Yemen, there is civil war, extreme poverty, little infrastructure, and that doesn't even begin to cover it. Yet, somehow, with the same natural resources, the same topography, and same overall development cycles until the last 48 years (since the 1970 Omani coup d'état), Oman has risen above the poverty and has proven to be one of the most progressive states on the Arabian Peninsula all because of Qaboos bin Said al Said’s bloodless overthrow of his father, Sultan Said bin Taimur. Qaboos bin Said al Said’s incredible values-based leadership is what brought Oman from an underdeveloped country, with barely any infrastructure (a total of 6 km of paved roads, in the whole country), healthcare, education, and a population entirely dependent on farming and fishing to survive, to one of electricity, desalination, thriving private enterprise, quality education, economic flourishing, and a value placed on the environment. Qaboos has done incredible things for Oman and it is evidently clear due to that which it is juxtaposed next to. An important thing to note, however, is that Qaboos was able to make so much change in so little time due to his status as an absolute monarch. Often westerners think that democracy is the only way to move a country forward. However, it is important for us to be open minded and think deeply about what would work the best for the country in question in the phase they are in. Oman wasn't ready for a democracy: in this moment in history, they needed Qaboos, a benevolent dictator. Democracy will come, but we’ve seen what happens when we force it on a country that isn’t ready for it.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
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'Australia Votes Yaaas to Same-Sex Marriage' by Charlie Pearlman
I had wanted to go abroad to Australia ever since my Blue Devil Days host told me all about his adventures in Sydney. When I stepped on campus, I made sure study abroad was penned into my four-year plan. When it finally came time for me to head to the Southern Continent, I had a comprehensive list of everything I wanted see, every beach to surf, and even every ferry to ride. But perhaps, my fondest memory of all the great experiences in Sydney came off of no list. Instead, I was in the right place at the right time. While I was in Australia last fall, history was being made. The government ordered a referendum, a nation-wide postal vote, over the legalization of same-sex marriage. The voting period was 100 days of sustained excitement, featuring celebrities, “Vote Yaaas” Snapchat filters, sky writers and whatever else it took for 79% of the country to mail in their ballot. At parades like this one, I saw the power of the people joining together, the sprit of love spreading through the city, and signs of a country full of optimism for a better future.
Note from GEO: This entry was originally submitted as an animated GIF. We converted the file to video to satisfy Adobe Spark's file extension requirements.